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New England Patriots Roster Projection, v3

Let’s get right to it:

Offense:

QB (2):

Locks:  Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer

In:  None

Out:  Danny Etling

Way Out:  None

Comments:  Welp, Etling didn’t throw for 600 yards in the finale.  Not only that, but it looks like he stinks.  But it could be also that his receivers stink too.  Maybe they should have drafted the kid the Giants took, Kyle Lauletta, who was linked to the Pats all spring.  Whatever…it was a helluva an 86 yard run by Etling at the end of the game though.  We know Brady ain’t doing that this year.

RB (6):

Locks:  Rex Burkhead, James White, Sony Michel, James Develin

In:  Jeremy Hill, Mike Gillislee

Out:  Ralph Webb

Way Out:  Henry Poggi, Kenneth Farrow, Khalfani Muhammed

Comments:  Hill is probably a lock actually.  Gillislee did not play in the preseason finale.  Combine that with the uncertain health of Burkhead and Michel and I think he gets on the squad to start the year.  Farrow and Muhammed were signed a couple of days ago…it was nice of the Pats to do that.

WR (4):

Locks:  Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson

In:  Riley McCarron

Out:  Devin Lucien

Way Out:  Paul Turner, K.J. Maye

Suspended:  Julian Edelman

Injured Reserve:  Braxton Berrios

Comments:  As I said in the last projection, it wouldn’t surprise me to see McCarron stick.  And the fact that he didn’t play in last night’s game tells me he makes it…at least at the start.  Maye was signed a few days ago as well.  Good to see him again, as he was with the Pats in the preseason last year.  And I will say that I was shocked as sh&t to find out that Turner actually has some NFL experience from 2016.  But that shouldn’t help him here.

TE (3):

Locks:  Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen

In:  Jacob Hollister

Out:  Will Tye

Way Out:  None

Injured Reserve:  Ryan Izzo

Comments:  Allen’s recent pay adjustment locks him in.  Hollister has been chatted up frequently, so I guess he is in.  But maybe his injury keeps him off.

OL (8):

Locks:  Trent Brown (LT), Joe Thuney (LG), David Andrews (C), Shaq Mason (RG), Marcus Cannon (RT), LaAdrian Waddle (T)

In:  Ted Karras (G/C), Cole Croston (T)

Out:  Matt Tobin (T), Luke Bowanko (C/G), James Ferentz (C), Jason King (G), Ulrick John (T)

Way Out:  Brian Schwenke (C)

Injured Reserve:  Isaiah Wynn (T/G)

Comments:  John was getting some love, but he limped off last night and who knows how serious his injury is.  Bowanko is also hurt.  The top 6 are locked in, but you can pick whoever you want as the 2-3 backups and honestly, I couldn’t tell you who is better than who.  Should I be able to?  I don’t know.  But can you?

Defense:

DE (5):

Locks:  Trey Flowers, Adrian Clayborn, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise

In:  Keionta Davis

Out:  Eric Lee

Way Out:  Frank Herron

Comments:  I’m keeping Davis on, despite some questions during the telecast about him not making enough plays against backups in the preseason.  Just a hunch.

DT (4):

Locks:  Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton

In:  Adam Butler

Out:  Vincent Valentine

Way Out:  John Atkins, Trent Harris

Comments:  Still would like to find room for Valentine.  But maybe they think that they can slip him through to the practice squad, seeing that he missed all of last year.

LB (4):

Locks:  Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts

In:  None

Out:  Marquis Flowers, Christian Sam

Way Out:  None

Injured Reserve:  Harvey Langhi

Comments:  First three are no-brainers.  Roberts didn’t play in the finale, so, unfortunately, it looks like he is a lock too.  Sam apparently wasn’t dressed last night, so maybe he is hurt and he ends up on IR?  Flowers is brutal, but he is a “core special teamer”, who actually also, very, unfortunately, does play some linebacker too.  He’s out for now, but my guess is that he’s a guy they can cut, not get claimed and be back for Week 1.  Maybe not, but he played a ton in the last preseason game.  That’s usually not a good sign.  And I think his 1.75 mil salary is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too high.  There’s some room for him to come down there.  Taking a stab here…

CB (6):

Locks:  Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Duke Dawson

In:  Cyrus Jones, J.C. Jackson

Out:  Jason McCourty, Ryan Lewis, Keion Crossen

Way Out:  Jomal Wiltz

Comments:  No changes here.  McCourty is a guy that they could cut and re-sign in Week 2.  And he was playing a little safety in the preseason finale.  Maybe that’s a long-term thing.  But doesn’t help him for Saturday.  Crossen still has a shot to make the squad, at least temporarily.  But I think that may be a stretch at this point.

S (4):

Locks:  Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon

In:  Jordan Richards

Out:  Damarius Travis

Way Out:  A.J. Moore

Comments:  If Jason McCourty could ever supplant Richards, I’d love it.  But I don’t see it.

Specialists (7):

Locks:  Stephen Gostkowski (K), Ryan Allen (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Nate Ebner (ST), Brandon King (ST), Nicholas Grigsby (ST)

In:  None

Out:  Brandon Bolden (ST), Geneo Grissom (ST)

Way Out:  Corey Bojorquez (P)

Comments:  “Bojo” couldn’t even punt in the last meaningless preseason game.  I think they play the same game with Bolden this year as they did last year…cut him for 2 days, keep a kid longer so they can sneak him on the practice squad when other teams have their rosters set, then he’s back in uniform before Week 1.

Final comment:  There will be some bottom of the roster movement, cuts and re-signings and all.  We know that.  But we also know that there will be some trades, probably minor, but still some trades.  I will say, I love this time of year!

Practice squad:  Etling, Webb, Lucien, Ferentz, Lee, Harris, Valentine, Sam, Lewis and Crossen.

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Opening Day Is When? Conclusion…

As promised, let’s moved on to the bats.  Apparently, the 25 man roster was finalized Tuesday, though it won’t be announced until Opening Day to make sure no one stabs themselves with a pen or trips over a crack in the pavement or something.  And…the offensive side of the ball could probably have been predicted correctly days ago by anyone who doesn’t even follow baseball.  But that won’t stop the Blowhard from making his comments below!

Overall, it COULD be a strong group and SHOULD be a strong group.  But there are some question marks on this side as well.  But we will dive into that when we go through the positions.

Once again, we will be using the 40-man roster as a base, while adding in non-roster invitees (NRI) where (if) appropriate:

Catcher (2):

In:  Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon

DL:  None

Minors:  None

Comments:  Well, that was easy.  There are only three catchers on the 40-man roster.  And one of them isn’t really a catcher anymore, I don’t think.  We will talk about that in more detail later though.  As for these two, you could do much worse.  Both are serviceable offensively and defensively.  Looks like Vasky will be around for a while for sure, as he just signed a fat extension…well, a fat one for him anyway.  Leon is never going to hit like he did a couple of years back, but he won’t kill you at the dish.  In this lineup, batting ninth, I don’t think we really care about their offense anyway, right?

Infield (5):

In:  Hanley Ramirez (1B), Eduardo Nunez (2B), Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rafael Devers (3B), Mitch Moreland

DL:  Dustin Pedroia, Marco Hernandez

Minors:  Tzu-Wei Lin, Sam Travis, Ivan DeJesus Jr. (NRI)

Comments:  No-brainers here as well, especially after trading Deven Marrero to Arizona a few days back.  Believe it or not, we will talk more about Marrero later.  DeJesus had zero shot at making the team in reality.  But I thought I’d give him some props in this piece since he hit almost .400 this spring.  I still have no idea why the team re-signed Moreland, not to mention giving him 2 years.  I know, Hanley is always a question mark and the Sox did not have J.D. Martinez in the fold yet.  But I think the whole world knew that JD was eventually going to sign here.  And that he was likely to spend more time DHing than in the outfield.  Thus pushing Hanley to first base…I mean, if he felt like playing the field that is.  Because you know he didn’t feel like playing first last year.  The shoulder hurt of course.  Yup.

Anyway, lots of questions here still.  Which Hanley will show up?  Nunez should be a more than capable substitute for Pedroia, then a more than capable reserve after Dustin comes back.  But he signed late.  Is there still concern about his knees?  Devers splashed onto the scene last year.  Can he take the next step?  And perhaps most importantly, will Xander finally reach the supposed unlimited potential that he was earmarked long ago for?  Or will he continue to disappoint?

My take?  Hanley will be extraordinarily average.  But that’s ok since we don’t want him to get the 497 plate appearances he needs to trigger his 2019 option.  Goodbye already, as far as I’m concerned.  Nunez will be just fine.  Devers will have some ups and downs but will be spelled enough by a few guys on the roster so that he doesn’t get overwhelmed.  Though I will say, it would not shock me that if he starts somewhat slow, he could find his way back to Pawtucket for more seasoning.  As for Bogaerts?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Plenty of people think manager Alex Cora will fix him.  I am not convinced.  Earlier in the spring, X seemed to balk at changing his approach.  You know the one where he took so many pitches right down the middle of the plate.  Maybe that has changed since it looks like he has had a decent spring.  But we will see when the lights shine for real.

Outfield (3):

In:  Andrew Benintendi (LF), Mookie Betts (RF), Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF)

DL:  None

Minors:  Rusney Castillo (NRI)

Comments:  Defensively?  Hard to top.  Offensively?  We will see.  Benny should take another step up, in my opinion.  I’m hoping Betts rebounds himself.  “Rebounds”, I know.  Betts finished 6th in the MVP vote last year.  But, in all seriousness, did he deserve that?  The Blowhard says absolutely not.  But we know he has all the tools.  Let’s hope he uses them to their full capacity again.  Bradley flat-out stinks.  He should have been traded the winter after the 2016 season after what most assuredly will be his career year.  But I suppose I’m biased.  I’ve never liked him.  Sure, his D is awesome.  But can’t Betts and/or Benintendi play center at least at 85-90% of JBJ’s ability?  I think so.  I’m also not saying that the Sox should have kept Bryce Brentz to play left…or even play JD full-time in the outfield.  I’m just venting I guess.  The 7 for 46 (.152) this spring doesn’t help either.  Rusney had a good spring and he also seems like he’s a better player than when he first got here.  But it looks like he will make his 12 mil again this year in Pawtucket.  Just another 12 mil in 2019 and a little over 14 mil in 2020 to go on his deal.  Solid.  Wait…maybe he won’t exercise that 2020 player option…ummmmm, nevermind.

Designated Hitter (1):

In:  J.D. Martinez

DL:  None

Minors:  None

Comments:  I honestly did not love the Martinez deal…though if it turns out to be a two-year deal, then it makes it more palatable.  That being said, this dude better hit some bombs.  He also better not chirp about not playing the outfield much.  And Cora better not feel pressure to put him in the outfield much.  Let the record show that he hit zero dingers in camp this year.  I’ll give him the late start.  As well as the fact that he hit over .300.  But I’ll be skeptical of this signing…unless it works out of course.

Utility (2):

In:  Brock Holt, Blake Swihart

DL:  None

Minors:  None

Comments:  I can’t really call these guys infielders, outfielders or even catchers in Swihart’s case.  These guys will play multiple positions.  Well, Swihart allegedly will.  We really don’t know if he actually can.  We know he won’t catch much.  The pitchers don’t like to throw to him.  Hard to believe he will catch at all under those circumstances.  I wonder if he will get much in the form of at-bats overall.  Cora talks about using Blake similar to the way the Astros use Marwin Gonzalez.  But 500 plate appearances?  I don’t see it.  Welp, the Sox have already done what they could to ruin his career, so I suppose they can tack on some more of that this year.  In all fairness, I suppose the team’s hand was forced with Swihart being out of options.  But still…

You were waiting for the part where we would talk more about Deven Marrero?  Here it is!  We think the Sox should have kept him over Holt.  Marrero can’t hit worth a damn.  But his glove alone was worth keeping him in tow.  Especially considering the infield defense (minus Pedroia) is questionable at best.  And Devers may be the first third basemen to have 100 errors in a season.  Ok, a little hyperbole there.  But you get the point.  Holt can play several positions half-decently, but none exceptionally.  Marrero could occupy the 25th spot on the roster and be a defensive replacement every game if necessary.  Only let him hit when you have to.  There is some value in that, believe it or not.  Holt may have been useful in 2014 & 2015.  But not so much in 2016 & 2017.  And has some concussion/vertigo issues.  We know what he is.  I would’ve moved on.

So there are the initial thoughts on the 2018 Red Sox.  Lots of talent, but also lots of injuries and lots of questions.  There’s only one more thing to say…LET’S PLAY BALL!!

Opening Day Is When?

March 29th, to be exact.  Thursday.  In March.  Boy, that sure crept up fast.  I suppose that’s what happens when it is basically still winter up here in the Northeast and baseball is not top of mind when it’s 30 degrees out and plenty of snow remains on the ground.  Not to mention the fact that the Bruins and Celtics are having great seasons, thereby keeping the focus on them for a while…possibly until both are out of the playoffs.

Perhaps also the expectations for the Red Sox aren’t as high this year either?  I don’t know.  I’m not that high on them anyway.  I’m not sold on the rookie manager.  Too many question marks on the pitching staff, especially relating to injuries…or injury risks.  Didn’t necessarily love the J.D. Martinez deal.  Hanley…everything about him.  The Yankees lineup looks prodigious…and have young potential stars on the way to boot.  Some of this stuff we’ve been through before.  Rest assured, we will get into more detail on my hesitations in the paragraphs that follow.

Listen, the Sox should be plenty good this year.  They should be in the mix for the playoffs…of course.  And for the money that the players are getting, they’d better be.  Alex Cora HAS to be better than John Farrell, right?  If he rejuvenates the younger players in the lineup, that alone is a huge win.  You know, those young players who were supposed to be the future stars and the core of this team for years to come?

So anyway, let’s start with a quick look at the roster.  No, it is not officially set yet, but it’s close enough.  In all likelihood, the roster was pretty much set before the spring even started, for all intents and purposes.  Basically just had to be adjusted a little for any spring injuries and for those who need a little more time to recover from previous offseason surgeries and whatnot.

Now let’s be honest, I did not watch a whole ton of spring training baseball.  But I read all the box scores!  And more importantly, I stayed away from all those “feel-good” stories that come out every March.  Didn’t need those influencing my feelings.  Because you all know how I feel for the 72nd guy on the roster.  Root like hell for whoever that may be!  In any event, because Spring Training results are fairly useless, we probably didn’t miss much.

Let’s get to it, in usual Blowhard fashion, we break down the roster by position, using the 40-man roster as a base, but adding in non-roster invitees (NRI) where appropriate:

Rotation (5):

In:  Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Brian Johnson

DL:  Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez

DL/Suspension:  Steven Wright

In limbo:  Hector Velasquez, Marcus Walden (NRI)

Minors:  Jalen Beeks, Roenis Elias

Comments:  If Pomeranz and E-Rod aren’t out long, then the starting five should be more than acceptable.  But that’s the big part of the problem.  Those two aren’t the healthiest hurlers around.  They could be out only a week or two, or we could see them in June.  No one ever knows with them…E-Rod specifically.  Price has apparently had a nice spring.  But are we out of the woods on his elbow yet?  Not so sure.  Johnson is in the Opening Week rotation because of all these injuries.  But how about HIS injury history?  Marcus Walden is only noted here because he may actually be the #5 guy at the start since Hector has been less than stellar this spring.

Bottom line?  Lot’s of holes here.  If the starters remain in good health, it could be a top rotation.  But what are the chances of that happening?

Bullpen (7):

In:  Craig Kimbrel (closer), Carson Smith, Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree

DL:  Tyler Thornburg, Austin Maddox

In limbo:  Bobby Poyner (NRI), Tommy Layne (NRI)

Minors:  Brandon Workman, Robby Scott, Chandler Shepherd, Ty Buttrey, Williams Jerez

Comments:  There seem to be some other guys hanging around camp, like William Cuevas, but we don’t need to talk about guys like him.  They won’t be going up to Boston for Opening Day.  Anyway…lots of questions here as well.  Kimbrel was dominant last year, let’s hope he can do it again.  But the rest?  Smith resurfaced at the end of last year, but let’s see how he handles a full season now.  I am no fan of Kelly and Barnes so I don’t even want to talk about them.  If Thornburg can regain his health, that SHOULD help.  Then again, he has pitched in Milwaukee his whole career.  Who knows how he adjusts to the AL East?  Workman has been a huge disappointment this spring and I have no idea what the hell is wrong with late-season darling Maddox.  He hasn’t pitched all spring it looks like and I haven’t even heard his name mentioned.  I have heard Poyner’s name mentioned, as he has apparently turned some heads.  But the Sox had to go sign Layne in the middle of the spring.  That can’t be good.

There will be a lot of bodies on and off the pitching staff all year-long.  But I don’t love all the questions right out of the gate.  If I had to guess, Sale, Price, Porcello, Johnson, Velasquez, Walden, Poyner, Hembree, Kelly, Barnes, Smith and Kimbrel head to Boston at the start.  In case you were worried, there is one open 40-man spot for one of Walden or Poyner and another spot can be opened when someone like Dustin Pedroia goes on the 60-day DL.  Or someone like Chandler Shepherd gets designated for assignment.  But, as you know, I’m the only one that cares about the last 40-man roster spot…

Next:  The bats

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